Being an American car dealer these days is like being on a roller coaster.
And like every other year, the National Automobile Dealers Association convention has all the drama anyone could imagine.
We all know about Oldsmobile. What has happened there isn't pretty.
One of these days there will be a class-action suit against General Motors, and from that moment on the conversations will stop.
The matter will end up in court, and any chance GM might have had to keep the fences mended will disappear. It will get very ugly very fast.
Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge dealers also have plenty to chew on. It doesn't seem that long ago that they were going through the same ordeal.
If it were only layoffs, that would be one thing. But if the cutbacks affect future product programs, they will affect the dealers' competitiveness. Time will tell.
We all know how important the dot-coms are to the retailer. Well, we thought we knew. It seems customers prefer to deal with their friendly local dealer after all. It turns out the Internet is a great way to distribute information, but it won't put the dealer out of business anytime soon.
And don't forget about the worries some customers have about Firestone tires. All of a sudden, car dealers have to think about tires.
But plenty of dealers are smiling. Last year was the best sales year in the history of the automobile business, and in spite of the doomsayers, this year probably will be one of the top five sales years ever.
We have highs and lows at the same time.
There are love affairs with some factories and rotten relationships with others.
Right now, there is just about anything you might want in the retail business.
That's why it's such an interesting business.
There is nothing else quite like it in the United States. And you can bet your last nickel that it will stay that way for at least the next 50 years.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That's what makes this the exciting business it is. And it won't calm down any time soon.